views expressed by entrepreneur Those who give are their own.
If you ask five random strangers from different walks of life what the major threats to the future of small businesses are, you are likely to get similar answers. Possible reactions would include rising inflation and a possible recession, instability in the job market, the pace of technological progress, supply chain issues, and more.
The real question is, which insidious threat is too often put on the backburner in the next operating budget? When revenue is on track, inventory is viable, growth is stable and scaling up is starting to take shape, what’s left to solve?
Related: Cybersecurity is no longer an option. Your money is in immediate danger.
Ignoring warnings is the easy — and short-sighted — way out for SMBs
Ignoring the seriousness of cyber threats is a dangerous gamble. The risk is undeniable:
- 61% of small businesses to face cyber attack in 2021
- Small businesses account for 43% of all data breaches
- More than half of small businesses that fall victim to cyberattacks close within six months
Acknowledging the harsh reality most individuals choose to ignore is an important step. Correct understanding of the situation results in knowing what protective measures should be taken. Creating and implementing cybersecurity measures should be a high priority for businesses of all sizes, especially SMBs, where the margin of error is razor-sharp.
The pressure to allocate resources effectively undermines cyber security efforts
There are few endeavors as nerve-wracking, terrifying and potentially disastrous – yet 100% worth it – as starting and running a small business. I have experienced the passion that drives dedicated people to watch it. I have felt the fuel burning within team members fully committed to taking an idea and developing it into a viable, self-sustaining entity.
It’s no secret that the odds are against us. Numbers don’t lie. It is widely reported that on average 8 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first year. The prospects get even more grim, with within five years nearly half of all new small businesses closing up shop.
Given the apparent confidence and enthusiasm of the founders, why do most small businesses despise or completely ignore cyber security? Why are there immense possibilities of extreme disaster lurking around every corner? It is a matter of resources and lack of an informed perspective.
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SMB leadership must step up cyber security
Addressing cyber security as a small business is a necessary undertaking that sees greater complexity and effort over time. Some basic steps need to be taken, which are strengthened with increased security measures. Given the undeniable threats that lie hidden, the stronger the security features of the business, the better.
Here are some important takeaways to take from the get-go:
- Internet and firewall security software. It is important to have both antivirus and firewall software running, as they address different problems. Firewall prevents outside access to any data on the private network; Integrating reliable security software, operating systems and web browsers is the essential shield for networked access to that data.
- data backup. If a cyber attack occurs that involves hijacking or corrupting company data, a quality, reliable backup will be a lifesaver. Data backup should be updated regularly to ensure quick access.
- Secure Wi-Fi. A simple, straightforward solution, a secure Wi-Fi setup is a powerful piece of the security puzzle. It may be necessary to go above and beyond the basic protections your provider provides.
- Controlled access and rights. The most effective way to avoid potential crises is to implement controlled access to data and limit user authorization. This action helps ensure that employees do not inadvertently install or operate compromised programs, undermine cyber security settings or access data and information that are outside the scope of their responsibilities.
Awareness, education and formal policies are vital to cyber security defense
One of the most important steps a business can take is employee cyber security education. Without thorough awareness and understanding of the myriad methods cybercriminals attack, employees are the weak link that will inevitably be compromised. Basic instruction on threat severity and critical risks to be avoided will go a long way in enhancing the strength of proactive cyber security defence.
Equipping your company with established cyber security policies and action plans reinforces the foundational steps outlined above; These steps incorporate a defensive mindset and the preparedness needed to counter adaptive cybercriminal attacks. The specific plans made will vary with respect to the size and structure of the business but may include the following:
- internal incident response plan
- mobile device action plan
- Crisis Response / Customer Engagement Plan
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Securing Survival and Success as an SMB in a Challenging Economic Landscape
Every small business is unique. Every owner, every leadership team and every staff member – everyone has their own story. It is difficult to say whether they will all be told.
When navigating an endless parade of mounting concerns, looming threats and demands on the dwindling resource of time, the energy and effort required can seem overwhelming. Adding cyber security measures to the to-do list to deal with another day may make sense in the moment, but the reality paints a very different picture.
When leading a small business, there is an appropriate level of time and resources to invest in any given issue. Finding the right level for their business will be a call they will have to get right.